Hunter Benefits Consulting Group



Beneficiary Designation Forms: A Guide to Avoiding Legal Pitfalls

by Webmaster

In this post, we’re going to delve into the number one cause of legal issues with beneficiary designation forms and provide valuable tips to help you avoid potential pitfalls in estate planning. 

Keeping Beneficiary Forms Up to Date 

The primary reason people encounter legal problems with beneficiary forms is failing to keep them up to date. The solution is straightforward. Here’s what you should do to avoid issues: 

  • Fill it out for Major Life Events: Whenever a significant life event occurs—such as marriage, divorce, having a child, or the unfortunate loss of a child—make sure to fill out a new beneficiary form. This ensures your form accurately reflects your current beneficiaries. 
  • Consider Heirs: Depending on how your form is structured, if a beneficiary predeceases you, the intended portion might pass to their heirs. Regularly review and update your form to align with your current intentions. 
  • New Form for Changes: Don’t merely edit an existing form when life changes; instead, fill out a completely new one. The most recently completed form takes precedence over any previous versions. 
Sticky note that says Beneficiary designation forms

Additional Tips on Beneficiary Designation Forms 

Now that we’ve tackled the primary cause, let’s explore more tips for mastering beneficiary designation forms: 

  • Spousal Considerations: Regardless of your spouse’s location, you need to designate them as the primary beneficiary, unless specific reasons dictate otherwise. 
  • Spousal Consent: If you have reasons not to designate your spouse as the primary beneficiary, such as for gifting purposes, obtain spousal consent. Clearly document your reasons for this choice. 
  • Children as Beneficiaries: Typically, people name their children as secondary beneficiaries. When filling out the form, use your children’s legal names to avoid confusion. Employers appreciate having accurate information. 
  • Employee Responsibilities: If you’re an employee, ensure you fill out the beneficiary designation form correctly. Include crucial details like date of birth, Social Security number, address, and the relationship to you. 
  • Keep Originals Secure: While employers should retain forms in personnel files, it’s wise for employees to maintain their copies. This practice prevents conflicts arising from conflicting documents. 
  • Online Forms: If you opt for online beneficiary forms, save a local PDF copy and consider printing it for a physical record. Having a hard copy provides clarity and permanence. 

You can find a Beneficiary Designation Form here.


In conclusion, it’s crucial to fill out a new beneficiary designation form whenever a significant life event occurs. Keeping your beneficiaries updated ensures your wishes are accurately reflected in case of unforeseen events. As a word of advice, consider this: if you want to live forever in the realm of legal clarity, fill out a beneficiary designation form. Unfortunately, many cases involve the one person who neglected to update this essential document. 

If you have any further questions please contact us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.